Are we telling stories on ourselves?

Collage-ArthurThomsonDID YOU EVER wonder how much our creative “offspring,” those ideas, innovations, or enterprises we personally give birth to, reflect or reveal who we are as individuals?

That question occurred to me just a few minutes ago when I came across a story I wrote years back, stream-of-consciousness style, scribbling it atop the collage at left. Is my character, Arthur Thomson, really me?

Arthur Thomson was, by his own account, a self-made man. In fact, he claims to have made everything: muscle tissue, hair fibre, even the celluloid stays in his shirt collars.

He would, on some occasions, assume a dramatic pose atop the most convenient platform and announce, “Oh gracious. I seem to have broken a tooth. Well, no matter. I’ll just make another.”

Despite the sound of it, he was not a vainglorious man, he just labored under the delusion that he created himself from whole cloth.

As the years passed, he took credit for more and more of those things that surrounded him, even to the point of vowing at one church potluck dinner that he had made the potatoes; not just boiled, peeled, mashed and buttered them, but made them.

His “productivity” reached its apex, however on his 73rd birthday when he made the rounds about town, appearing at every door, neighbors’ and strangers’ alike, with a young boy in tow; one that Arthur claimed to have thrown together out in the shed from spare tractor parts.

Pictured above: “Arthur Thomson” (1997) Collage of tin type and photographic print, copper nails, rose hips, book papers, and ink. Dimensions: 5-3/8″x8-1/2″ front, 10-3/4″x8-1/2″ inside.

2 thoughts on “Are we telling stories on ourselves?

  1. I laughed out loud and almost woke my son who is sleeping close by. “I made the potatoes.” So many thoughts on this so i’ll stick to just one: I just watched a documentary on the Source Family, a cult, in the late 60’s i think. And then went and read all I could about Father Yod. Because, as strange as he was, I don’t think he was…strange. I see his life/journey in a lesser “charisma”, more subtle in many people and their journeys.. in the steps that accompany many of our life’s.. of a “realization,” or “epiphany,” call this “coming to christ,” (christian) or ” a burning in the bosom,” (mormon) or “enlightenment,” (Buddhism) “understanding,” (humanist) or anything else we use for this THING of seeing that we have some sort of power that we don’t understand…but we know it’s there. Some call down that power from the god’s or better, by thinking they “understand” the gods…some call it from within and thinking they understand what is within.. Those like Yod, politicians, artist, preachers and prophets ..have this THING, and say it.. and then are carried by the momentum of others who recognize what they say..but really, like yod at the end, we say something like his last words “I’m not god,” or other words we might recognize “Why hast though forsaken me?” We know.. but we don’t. The only thing that I COULD possibly know is me.. I’ve known my wife all my life, but I can’t KNOW her.. so I thought, reading this, that yes all I make is in someway ME, a search for ME, but knowing ME, is the only chance I have to know you.

    • Yep. That’s that place where the dream turns inside-out on me, and I’m suddenly aware of how much more real are those things that seem most fragile or fleeting. Like the blades of grass in The Great Divorce that almost pierce our feet if we’re not ready.

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